January 23, 2012

Arriving in Beijing, China & a Good Rest at Holiday Inn Express Hotel

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Kiong Hee Huat Tsai or Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)!

Holiday Inn Express, Beijing taken using my Dell Streak ;)
It is the perfect time for me to start my series of blog posts about my trip to Beijing. It has been 5 months since we landed back to Manila but only now have I found the great motivation to click on New Post and open my photo album entitled Beijing 2011.

As you know, Facebook and Twitter are not accessible in China. I was a bit disappointed and sad as soon as we landed but after a few days, I realized it is nice to be disconnected with the "world". I felt like I was on real vacation with no access to my work inbox and Facebook. Plus, there weren't much Filipinos in Beijing that time, so we really felt like tourists in the area.

The trip to Beijing is one of the best times in my life. The day before our flight, I attended an event where I won a Dell Streak! (Wohooo!!). Most of all, I never realized I would have this chance to see and be in one of the Seven Wonders of the World. 

Anyhow, so come the departure day, my friends and I met up in Terminal 3 where we first ate in this Italian Restaurant. I forgot the name, and lost the receipts.

But since I love Italian, pizza and pasta, I was satisfied. Period.

After dinner (or lunch), or just everytime we will board a plane, it has been a tradition to buy and sip coffee. This used to be just a plain smoking room (I sure remember), but look at it now..

Then, it is time to board the plane.. As expected, there was a few minutes delay in flight. The inconvenience we had to pay for discounted tickets?! Yes, we got our tickets at discounted price. Thanks to CebuPacific Promo Fares! We booked it one year before the flight date. It was worth the wait!

It is a long flight from Manila to Beijing. We took a nap, played Angry Birds (the first time I and my friend D got to appreciate the game!), and read the airline magazine. Look at the price of my Dell Streak tab! (around 29thousand plus).

We had a great meal at that Italian Resto, but I still made sure I had this in my bag - it looked like a pillow, I know!

My nail art is courtesy of Beauty and Butter!

A few more hours, Mr. Captain Pilot announced that we were landing soon. Here's the view from the top!

And as soon as we landed, it is time to look for the nearest washroom. To be fair, it is all clean and fully-stocked. But since we were in another Asian country, I would expect a "squat bowl" in any restaurant and theme parks.

Immigration always scares me. Even if one already landed in the country, officers can always deny your entry. There was a looong line and took us a while to be served. During my turn, the officer took a while to verify my identity and give me that precious stamp. He kept on going back to my friend's record (there is a screen where you can see what he was checking in the monitor), and looking at my passport. I realized that my friend and I have the same pose (pose is too glam a word for a passport/VISA), hair/facial expression in the picture, so the officer might have thought there was some sort of illegal documentation. Anyway, I got my stamp and I gave him a good rating (there is a push-button rating system in the counter to evaluate the officer's service).

When we got to the Baggage Carousels, we couldn't find the one for our flight. Then we found the security personnel pushing a cart with our luggage (probably for disposal or inspection). Yes, it took us a while to get through the immigration that most passengers already gotten their stuff.

Outside the arrival area, we immediately found the old man holding a card with my friend's name on it. It was my friend's clever idea to take an airport service during our arrival. We landed past midnight and we didn't want to stress ourselves with the type of transportation that we would take from airport to hotel. So here was our service (and my friends have cameo roles in this blog!) Hehe.

On our way to the hotel, I couldn't help but admire the clean, wide roads of Beijing. I thought China is the most polluted country? But it is the opposite of what I saw and experienced.

Then, we finally arrived in the hotel. We decided to stay in Holiday Inn Express. We originally had a reservation in Sommerset Hotel. We had already booked for a suite with two bathrooms. But due to personal and professional decisions, 3 of our friends weren't able to join us. So we had to cancel the suite and book a new room few days before the flight.

Our luggages were all tired and restless..

My friend originally booked for a standard room with extra bed. However, when we got to the hotel, we were advised that what was booked and reserved was only a standard room (good for two). We insisted that we booked for standard with extra bed, and we already paid for the agreed amount. But since it was a third party website who booked us a room,  and processed our reservations, we could only accept what was being offered so we decided to just pay for the extra bed.

I asked my friend to file a complaint to the third party site, but he was too lazy to compose a note.

Here are the pictures of the room we got:

Comfy bed, yes it is.

That work area on the side served its purpose - a dresser!

Another shot.. 

We only got two mugs, so we just share. We are coffee addicts, so we also brought our own coffee sachets!

The other side of the room..

It is a connecting room, so we made sure that door is always locked.

 The washroom.. as usual, there's no bidet!

The washroom is clean and well-maintained. We are very particular with washrooms.
Oh, and that's me on the mirror!

Shower area - get ready for your silhouette to show on that side of the room.

Here's the view from our window. Not a very nice view, but it looks safe there. 

The elevator area..

On that corner is our room..

The hotel lobby. Seeing this was such a joy, especially after a tiring day..

Now, since we paid for an extra bed, we had to check back on the housekeeper to know how he did it.. There it goes - it is just the couch transformed to a bed.

Wondering how much we paid for the room? We arrived Wednesday morning, and we checked out Sunday night. We basically stayed for 5 days, 5 nights. The third party site charged us the following:

CNY 3,052.14  -  Php 19,496.79

and we added an extra bed:

CNY 768.00  - Php 5,166.73  (extra bed)

Total of Php 24,663.52, split into 3 (I and two friends) =  I paid Php 8,221. 1733 for the accommodation alone.

I think it is cheap considering the place is clean, decent and well maintained. There is a convenience store just right outside the hotel where you can buy goods, call cards, and toiletries. The room also comes with free breakfast. However, the nearest subway station is 25 minutes walk. But since cab fares are cheap in Beijing, my friends and I just took cab to get to subway stations.

Writing about this post makes me want to book a flight and explore another country! Stay tune for my next series of posts regarding the places we visited. Great Wall of China included!